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Later this afternoon, the New York Jets* will play the Miami Dolphins* at Wembley. Moving an entire NFL team across the Atlantic for a single game is a major logistic exercise. The New York Times recently interviewed the Jets' Operations Manager about the extra work such a game entailed.

"Degerness learned which gate the plane would pull into, which door the team would exit and where the jet bridge would deposit the group. [OK, seems a little anal, but presumably this guy has to check for any eventuality because that's his job. Fair enough.] He also learned that when the Jets flew home, their walkway would meander past duty-free shops, and that worries him, if only a little. [Is it really a problem if the players buy the odd bottle of single malt on the way home?]

“It’s hard to tell the guys: ‘Don’t stop. Just keep walking,’ ” Degerness said. “Those are the things that keep us up at night — that we get through security, someone stops at duty free, and we leave Ryan Fitzpatrick because we didn’t know he wasn’t there.” In that unlikely event, the Jets have a solution: As each player boards the plane, a team official will cross off the player’s name with a highlighter. [These are highly paid adults, and apparently the only way to reliably ensure that they all board the plane is to treat them like children on a school trip. Do you think they'll be made to hold hands with a partner and told not to speak to strangers? Ryan Fitzpatrick, the player singled out, is the Jets' starting quarterback. He has an Economics degree from Harvard.]

If the Jets were playing in South Florida, for instance, they would not have needed to pack more than 5,000 items — ranging from cereal [Yeah, because we don't eat breakfast cereal in the UK. Come to think of it, aren't the three biggest breakfast cereal manufacturers in the UK market - Kelloggs, Quaker and Nabisco all American companies?] and extension cords to gauze pads and wrist bands — onto a ship containing supplies for all six N.F.L. teams playing in London this season.

They would not have needed to list the value and country of origin for the contents in every trunk or bag. Or find an industrial launderer to pick up soiled practice clothing at one location and deliver it clean to another. Or fly in the chef at their London hotel to observe how food is cooked and served at team headquarters. [OK, fair enough.]

Or order 350 rolls of toilet paper to replace the thinner version used in England. [Wait...what?]

The toilet paper side of the story has been picked up by Pro Football Talk and the BBC among others. The BBC investigated further: "There was an intern who had been over to London numerous times. "He noticed when he was there that - and I quote - 'the toilet paper was very thin because their plumbing isn't as good'. "So, the intern informed the operations staff, and the Jets ordered 350 rolls of toilet paper for the hotel and the stadium."

So an organisation of a few hundred people apparently had to rely on a single intern to tell them what one of the world's most important cities and most popular tourist destinations was like. Where did the thin toilet paper idea come from? Apparently, American toilet paper is "2-ply". Well, so is British toilet paper. Here's the toilet paper section of Britain's biggest supermarket chain's online website.  All of the toilet paper, even the dirt cheap 'Tesco Everyday Value' stuff, is 2-ply. In my life, the only time when I have ever seen single-ply toilet paper in the UK was at a grotty campsite in the late 1970s. If a major hotel is providing single-ply toilet paper to its guests, then you're in the wrong hotel. (It occurs to me that the intern who had experienced thin toilet paper had been dirt poor when he visited London and maybe stayed in a really awful hotel. Even then, I think he'd have been unlucky to experience single ply toilet paper.)

I wonder if this could lead to one of those odd stereotypes that Americans have of the British. We all drink tea and nobody drinks coffee. Beer is served warm. That kind of thing. Oh, and British people have bad teeth.

Where the hell did the bad teeth stereotype come from? It presumably predates this scene from The Simpsons:

I've seen it in plenty of places since then. Yet British dental health is generally considered to be among the best in the world. Here's an OECD study that said that British children have the healthiest teeth of all the OECD countries. (You'll note that American children had only average teeth - not as good as the French, and a long way short of Germany and the UK.)

* Or, as the BBC announcer rather incompetently says "New Yorks Jets will play Miami Dolphins". What, any jets? Any dolphins? Is a random collection of airliners from JFK International going to show up to thrash a bunch of small cetaceans?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 4th, 2015 02:03 pm (UTC)
I think the teeth thing is about cosmetic fashion and culture rather than health. Given the same child with the same mildly uneven teeth, most British parents and dentists would accept it as normal variation, whereas most American ones would see it as a defect which needs to be fixed if at all possible. So the British stereotype of Americans is that they have identical unnaturally-perfect teeth, and the American stereotype of Brits is that we have ugly wonky teeth.
Oct. 4th, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC)
I think that's definitely a part of it. However, it doesn't explain why they think that _British_ teeth in particular are exceptionally "ugly wonky" rather than _non-American_ teeth.
Oct. 4th, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
If I had to guess, I'd guess its exposure. They see more British telly than telly from elsewhere in the world and if they go abroad, they are more likely to go to the UK than to some other part of the world - especially 20 or so years ago when, I'm guessing, the stereotype first arose.
Oct. 4th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
I suspect that you may well be it.

I've seen some pretty poor teeth in Scotland, as a student in a dental hospital, but I would not be surprised if these were outliers.
Oct. 4th, 2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
Yes to all of the above, and to add also that US society is heavily class-stratified, even more than the UK, and these cultural stereotypes tend to be created by the upper strata who are the ones making the TV shows etc. So yes, middle-class US kids will definitely have their teeth straightened and their parents will have their teeth whitened, and will be horrified by the more, ahem, natural teeth of middle-class British kids. But meanwhile there's a vast section of US society that can't afford dental care at all and has terrible teeth (or no teeth at all). These people will pull down the OECD averages but they just don't appear on the radar of your average middle-class American, who will thus think simply "American teeth are great (like mine)."

Oct. 4th, 2015 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'm also amused by the toilet paper because it says British toilet paper is so thin (allegedly) "because their plumbing isn't as good". Well .... what do they expect to happen when 350 rolls of duvet-thick US bathroom tissue have been flushed down these fragile British toilets? It wouldn't bear thinking about! -N.
Oct. 4th, 2015 09:01 pm (UTC)
I remember reading an article about British football players, and the way they're treated, and they were basically mollycoddled children, and behaved as such, because it was in their bosses' interests to do so, and so they never learned to fend for themselves.

Which is presumably why so many of them end up broke shortly after their career ends, despite making large quantities of money during it.
Oct. 4th, 2015 09:20 pm (UTC)
Not many Harvard graduates in the Premier League though...
Oct. 4th, 2015 09:24 pm (UTC)
Mind you, another (former) NFL player who was a Harvard graduate was Desmond Bryant. I assume he must be pretty intelligent to get into Harvard in the first place, but he sure as hell provided a mugshot for the ages after getting arrested a few years back:
Oct. 4th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC)
That certainly isn't a great photo :-)

(Although the alcohol may have something to answer for there...)
Oct. 5th, 2015 11:25 am (UTC)
It's a combination - American culture is obsessed with smiles and straight white teeth are a big part of that. Parents who can't afford it will be convinced to spend big bucks at the orthodontist. (like the Simpsons was lampooning). Also, the actors in British cinema and TV are more realistic looking and less "glossy" all around, so they don't sport the same typically perfect teeth that are seen on American/Hollywood productions. Finally, the Brits are known for having all that hard candy, and toffee and taffy and all that shit that dentists have been warning us about our entire lives. It's become then a sort of object lesson: if you eat all that sticky sugary crap you'll end up with bad teeth like an Englishman.
Oct. 5th, 2015 07:40 pm (UTC)
I thought taffy was American - I've personally only seen it when people have brought it back from holidays in Florida. We are big on toffee though.
Oct. 6th, 2015 02:48 pm (UTC)
Um... if you are worried that the toilet paper is one-ply then surely the obvious solution is to use 2 sheets???

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )